How things can change overnight! Today we packed our sleds in windless, sunny and warm temperatures. We looked at each other and laughed: as if we are on a holiday with a sled and not on a polar expedition. We wear sunglasses, a cap, gloves and I skied the entire day in fleece sweater. We got thirsty for water and had to be careful not to start sweating when we pull our sleds over piles of rubble. Our breaks were pleasant and we enjoyed the hummocks and cyan coloured blocks of ice randomly laying around. We spotted a darker piece of ice, almost grey, that kept our minds busy for a few hours thinking it may be a piece of multi year ice that is caught here in the ice or is it sewage from a cruise ship?We see a far horizon and scan for bank of clouds indicating open water ahead. We looked at salt crystals of ice freshly made on the leads we crossed. It was an entirely different experience outside the hood of your jacket, without goggles and to actually see and enjoy where you are. And yes the Arctic is beautiful and everybody should see it. Getting prepared for resupply in a few days. Weather is holding and we are expected to ski some kilometres and hope the drift will turn for once in our favour.
The calm after the storm. Still, blue and warm today, around -20. Yes, that’s warm as far as we’re concerned. We skied lightly dressed and the flat surface made for a fast pace for the first four hours. The second four were marred by multiple lead and rubble field crossings and robbed us if an anticipated record day. 18km.
Our commiserations to Yasu, we hear he has asked to be evacuated. Tough place this and the odds, and statistics, are against every team that attempts a passage. Pic of Bernice and Martin just before finding camp.
A big hello to my mum Josephine (my sled is named after her) who has been battling a brain tumour for the last year, and to my dad Keith for his constant care. I love you both.
Another whiteout day, so here’s @Icetrek sunbathing several days ago, looking for a way down off a lump of ice.
Before you go on an expedition you are told to get a general health check. Go to the dentist and make sure your appendicitis is in tact, and your ligaments and bones are not bend or broken. No matter how clean your bill of health is, being out here in the arctic environment for weeks at a time will eat away at your body, regardless. Mind you, your body is honed, stomach is a like a cheese grater, biceps like garbage haulers, your ass as hard as steel and you can easily pull and push twice your bodyweight over something. But where it eats away at you is in the extremities; your fingers, nose, ears and toes. Tonight it is the first night we can take inventory of our insults. The storm has passed, it is warmer, almost like spring for us in -18C and we can undress in our tent and feel comfortable. I look at my legs, now half the size of what they use to be and notice an area of red itchy frostbite blisters on my right side, the place where the wind has been pounding me for weeks as it forced in from the west. All fingers are frost-nipped and numb my left cheek has wind burn blisters while the right side of my nose is now white since the skin has peeled of. Miraculously, my toes are good and ears are perfect. It is part of the course and it best to prevent it from getting worse. The mental health check is good. We laugh a lot, sing songs and really yell well as a team. That alone is enough to keep the spirits high. So with the forecast of nice windless weather coming our way and no drifting back to the east, we take our frost-nipping, skin-peeling, blister forming bodies for granted.
As forecast the storm ended today after lunch and we saw the sun for the first time in many days. Wind is now very light and from the North.
Crossed a large fractured area with many open leads but most had easy constrictions or ice bridges.
Pic inspired by the work of my great travelling companion Martin Hartley. Such a privilege to glean photographic tips from him along the way.